Can Finances Break a Marriage?

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Okay, so the other day Ben and I walked into a bank, and while waiting to be attended to, I couldn’t help but hear the angry outbursts coming from one of the bank executive’s office. No, I wasn’t eavesdropping, this man’s voice was so loud and over the roof so that if you have healthy, well functioning ears, you wouldn’t be able to stop them from hearing all his conversation with the bank official. For a moment the anguish from this man’s voice was so disconcerting; he was literally begging the bank official to stop his wife from spending the money they had in their joint account, the conversation went like this:

Man: She has been spending too much. Can you please stop her?

Banker: I’m sorry sir, but she has every right to use the account since it also has her name on it.

Man: So there is no way you can stop her?

Banker: Since it’s a joint account, both of you have to be present before we can do anything.

Man: Okay, why not remove my name from the account instead? I want to remove myself. (I’m sorry but at this point I was trying so hard to hold myself from laughing out loud. This man was in such a desperate situation, it wasn’t funny but…. I found it hilarious!!!)

Banker: Again I’m sorry. Both of you have to be present to sign some forms before we can take any action.

I just kept wondering how much money the woman in question was spending, I mean has she been buying all the designer stuff in shops?

I know that many a couple have found themselves in ugly situations like this. I think the mistake many couples make is failure to come to a practical decision in the area of finances. While having a joint account is not entirely bad in itself, failure to ask questions, have certain agreements, leave sentiments out, and really be sure of their decision, make having joint accounts a financial quagmire for many families.  A quote by Benjamin Franklin reads “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.” This saying applies to every area of our lives, including finances. Studies have shown that money is one of the top reasons why people get a divorce; people become uncomfortable when their partner is making more money, or one partner has a spending habit that will lead them to poverty. Money is just a very touchy and sensitive issue, what’s more, money makes people change!!

Despite all the money drama in many homes today, there is still a good number of families who have managed to put it together in that area. There are couples out there who know how to work together to avoid issues that could arise from finances. Such couples are not superhuman, they just know how to plan, whether they have a joint or separate accounts. For Ben and I, using certain financial tools to plan and manage our finances has helped us, we are not perfect, at all…… Every now and then we mess up and then clean up our mess. I’ll be listing below some financial tools later, it’s not an all exhaustive list, but definitely worth checking out. Emphasis has to be laid on the fact that no matter how little or how much one earns, it is important to plan because in the end everything adds up.

Benefits of Planning: Like I said earlier, planning changes the whole game.

  1. Planning helps a couple to start the month, week, or day on the right foot by exposing areas where money that should have been saved, is/was spent. 
  2. Discipline is cultivated in a couple that plans. When a couple has made a budget and a plan, they become trained and disciplined with time.
  3. Impulsive spending is avoided. When a couple is working with an agreed budget, the temptation to spend unnecessarily is highly curtailed.

Joint or Separate Accounts:  Honestly speaking when it comes to this question, the decision is totally up to the couple. The thing is this, once we get married, there are certain decisions that should be made jointly, and money isn’t exempt. While I believe that a couple shouldn’t hide their income from each other, it is totally up to each couple to decide what they find more comfortable. But I believe being transparent in marriage is one of the best decisions couples can make. As important as being open with money is, nobody should be forced into having a joint account, both parties have to be in complete and total agreement for a joint account to work. If you’re not comfortable with having all your money in one account, keep your separate accounts. I would advise that if a couple is having a joint account, that account should be specifically opened for family projects that may arise in the future.

So back to the question now; Can the issue of finances break a marriage? Absolutely yes, especially in this generation when nobody wants to be cheated. Every man and woman wants a spouse who is ready to bring something to the table; love first, then ideas and income.

As for that man who was lamenting about his wife’s spending habit, I pray they were both able to work something out.

If you just started planning I would suggest using a journal like this Easy to Use Accounting Journal  or if you are already mastering the art of budgeting, you could try this Monthly Budget Planner: Weekly Expense and Bill Organizer. I personally find the Your Balanced Budget (Monthly Planner) very convenient and easy to use. If you prefer to go the digital route, you can actually start a spreadsheet on your phone or computer where you can have records of whatever is coming in and what is going out.

Please leave your comments below, let me know if you and hubby/wifey prefer a joint or separate accounts. I would also love to know how you all go about planning out your finances, I wouldn’t mind learning more.

Enjoy your weekend.

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